A fairly pointless history of my TV-watching experience, produced at some stage of my degree I think.
I have always had some sort of relationship with television, as I guess almost everyone does in the UK. My earliest memories of TV are typical children's shows. I remember watching Noddy and similar shows as well as cartoons. I particularly veered away from any sort of edutainment, as I have always been conscious of TV shovelling ideology into the viewer, although as a child I would have said 'I hate it when they try and make you learn what they think'. I always hated any type of learning (unless it was about dinosaurs, strangely) and started education at the latest possible point, and until A-levels retained my hatred for all things education.
Luckily, despite being an disobedient teenage shit, I always got good grades, but the lack of dedication in learning influenced my TV watching habits. From watching nothing but family entertainment and kids shows (Gladiators, My Parents Are Aliens etc.) until the age of 11 or so, I suddenly stopped watching TV. I barely watched any TV whatsoever through secondary school, but did interact with a screen, through films and video games. Football was the exception to the rule of course. After leaving grammar school at 16 to go to an all girls' comprehensive for A-levels, my attitudes towards learning (and subsequently TV) changed. Without sounding arrogant, I felt far more intelligent and knowledgeable than all of my peers. At grammar school, I felt like I was battling against learning, but now, as a response to so many idiots around me: I wanted to learn! I discovered wikipedia, and began to watch much more TV, provided it was the opposite to family entertainment. My TV watching attitude had reversed. I watched a lot of history programmes and documentary shows like Dispatches, Panorama and Horizon. Of course I still watched football too! This change in attitude took place alongside the beginning of my studies in Media for A-level.
My teacher for media was inspiring in the subject and it changed the way I consumed all media. Within two weeks of starting the subject I had completely changed the way I viewed Film, as well as TV to some extent. I questioned the validity of some documentaries. I criticised almost everything, aloud and in my head. It was actually annoying, and again I began to veer away from TV, instead preferring film, the internet and my lifetime passion (computer games) for my entertainment and learning. I suppose I still have this attitude today.
With regard to current tastes, I predominantly stick to the BBC over other channels because I despise adverts and somewhat trust the authenticity of BBC programmes. Most of the TV I watch now are either easy-watching quizcoms (thanks 'Dave'!) or British comedy (thanks mainly to Channel 4 and BBC). I watch quizcoms like 'Mock the Week', 'QI' and 'Never Mind The Buzzcocks' as fillers, when I have a spare half hour, but only if they are on, ie: I never plan to watch them. Its like taking my brain on holiday for 30 minutes, but I still feel intellectually stimulated. Other shows that I watch purely for entertainment are Family Guy, Futurama, Red Dwarf and South Park. I find these programmes to be cleverly constructed and easy to watch. South Park is particular interesting, as it often de-constructs news items and controversial debates in a comical and intelligent manner.
I fell in love with BBC2's 'The Office' during 6th form, which partly ties in with my new media analytic skills I learnt at the time. Being so elitist, I liked the programmes mockery of certain aspects of Britain's working class, and it's acute analysis of '9 to 5' England. It reflected life in my town of Tunbridge Wells. Me and the other 2 boys in my year endlessly quoted the show, much to the bemusement of our teachers and classmates. I have always been as fan of psuedo-racist and sexist comedy, essentially comedy that mocks such attitudes. Many misunderstand the genre, and I agree that it can be insensitive for some. This love of satirical comedy led me onto other TV comedies like Brass Eye, Nathan Barley and Jam, all works by Chris Morris. These (along with The Office) are my favourite TV shows ever. They are beautifully created and every second is superb. All are very close to the line in terms of taste, and although being essentially comedies, provide me with far more social analysis than anything else on TV. Other programmes similar are Peep Show, The Day Today and Extras.
I've never felt any pressure to watch or not watch anything, and in fact have probably exerted pressure on others on occasion with my dismissive and critical attitude to some TV shows (X Factor – I'm looking at you). I chose this course because I love criticising these shows, as well as analysing anything put on our screens. I also find the UK TV institution system interesting and wrote my 1st year essay on the importance of PSBs. I fairly regularly watch the news (either Sky or BBC) and despite my hatred of most TV, always keep track of what's on, and what shows are about. I know most of the contestants of Big Brother for example, and keep track of certain events, such as the Jade Goody race row. I would say I know more than most about TV, but have a gap in my knowledge of soap operas. Although I have studied it before an got a great mark, I just find the whole genre a waste of time, wildly boring and just plain stupid.
I grew up with terrestrial TV only, but watched satellite TV at my friend's houses. I currently have Freeview in my room and Virgin Media cable TV in our living room and in my parents house. I've had Freeview in my room for 4 years or so. I love my technology, and have had my own TV since the age of 8, increasing in size every couple of years to the size of my current TV – 42” HD flat screen. I enjoy having such nice TVs not for watching television, but for playing games and watching films.
I suppose I fit into the mould of a student, being arsey and critical about TV, while having a few TV watching habits that I shouldn't be proud of. I have closely followed the US TV shows Lost, Heroes and Prison Break, despite knowing just how bad they are. They are the closest thing I have to a guilty pleasure. In general, I really dislike US television, apart from a handful of exceptions (The Office US etc.). Also, being a male, I generally conform to the idea of watching sci-fi, violence, comedy and history (especially with film, but also with TV), and rejecting reality TV, soaps and romance. With regard to non-UK or US TV, I don't really watch anything. I watch lots of world cinema, but no world TV, mainly due to lack of accessibility, language barriers and general quality of show, although I've watched a fair number of Japanese anime shows like Pokemon, Great Teacher Onizuka, Naruto and Shaman King.
Today I mainly watch TV over the internet and DVD, and the only exception to this is the passage mentioned before about quizcoms and football as well as the odd film. I watch very little broadcasted TV. When I do watch broadcasted TV, I watch with my flatmates or family in the evening and everything else I watch alone at 3am on DVD or the internet. Oh, and no I haven't been an innocent viewer of TV since I stopped watching at the age of 12, and haven't been an innocent viewer of film since A-level.